Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

See other formats

HOME IN EXILE                              303

magistrate of Huichow, Chan Fan, and the county magistrate of Poklo,

Lin Pien, became his close friends. Other devoted friends of his, like

the priest Tsariliao of Hangchow and Chien Shihshiung of Chang-

ichow,  continually  sent messengers with  presents, medicines, and

) letters. There was a Buddhist convert at Soochow by the name of Cho

who  undertook  a seven-hundred-mile  journey  on foot  to bring

messages from Su's children and his friends in the lake district. Su's

two sons at Ishing were worried because they had not heard from their

father, and when Cho heard this he said to them: "Why, that's easy!

Huichow is not in heaven, is it? If you go on walking, you are bound

to reach it/5  Cho undertook the long journey on foot, crossing the

.high mountain ridge, and arrived with a tanned face and calloused


Through such means Su Tungpo kept in contact with his family in
the north. The curious Taoist Wu Fuku stayed for months with him,
and in the following two years travelled back and forth between Hui-
chow and Tseyu's place at Kao-an. Another extraordinary Taoist from
Su's home town, Lu Weichien, undertook a journey of two thousand
miles to come and see him. Su Tungpo had discovered an extra-
ordinary wine, the cinnamon wine, which he said was the nectar of
the gods. He had written jokingly to Lu that the taste of this cinnamon
wine alone would be worth the hardships of the long journey, and Lu

Some days the magistrate Chaa Fan would send a dinner with, his
cook to Su Tungpo's own home. Some days Su would go and have
a pint with his friend on the great lake west of the city, which lay at
a foothill with a great pagoda and two temples by its side. Some days
he would go and fish, sitting on a giant boulder on the bank of the
river. One day when he had caught a big eel, he brought wine and
the eel to the magistrate's home and had his dinner there. Some-
times with his son, and sometimes with the local magistrates or
with new visitors to the city, Su made repeated trips to the White
Water Mountain.

Some of his letters to his brother were delightful. In one, he talked
about the barbecued lamb spine that he had invented by necessity.

"Huichow is a small town, but they do kill one lamb a day. As
this is intended for the rich, I dare not buy it in competition with
the official families. So I ask the butcher only for the^spine. There
are little morsels of meat around the bones. I boil it in water and
take it out and drain it while it is very hot; otherwise, the moisture
will remain. Then I soak it in wine and sprinkle a little salt OTCT
it before broiling. I chew the thing all day, trying to get at the itek